BUDAPEST, HUNGARY - JULY 28: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 on track during qualifying for the Formula One Grand Prix of Hungary at Hungaroring on July 28, 2018 in Budapest, Hungary. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes AMG F1 team mastered a soaking wet track to take an exciting pole position at the Hungarian GP. The two Finns – Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen – claimed P2 and P3, after both being on provisional pole for a while. Hamilton’s title rival – Sebastian Vettel could only manage P4. Carlos Sainz of Renault and Pierre Gasly of Toro Rosso rounded off the top-six.

Hamilton Takes an Exciting Pole in the Wet

Q1: Vettel tops while Leclerc drops out in mixed conditions

The first qualifying session started under cloudy and humid conditions with air temperatures at 25 degrees C and track temperatures at 31 degrees C. Seeing a partly wet track and imminent rain, all cars started out on the green-striped intermediate tyres. Raikkonen set the initial benchmark time after the first runs.

With no rain falling yet, most cars reverted to slick ultrasoft tyres for second runs and lap times started falling. Vettel went fastest with a time of 1:16.666s, while Ricciardo just managed to scrape through with a 1:18.540s. Surprisingly, Ricciardo was the only driver on the yellow-striped soft tyres. Drivers who dropped out at the end of the session were Charles Leclerc, Stoffel Vandoorne, Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon and Sergey Sirotkin. Marcus Ericsson out-qualified his teammate and managed to get into Q2.

Q2: Vettel tops again as rain starts falling and Ricciardo drops out

The second qualifying session started on a drying track with most cars on the slick ultrasoft tyres. Vettel was the only driver to start on intermediate tyres. But, with rain starting to fall mid-way into the outlap of most drivers, only Vettel completed the lap, setting a benchmark time of 1:28.636s. All other drivers went back to the pits to change to intermediate tyres. With conditions deteriorating, Vettel’s benchmark time remained fastest for Q2.

Lance Stroll spun and hit the barriers taking out his front-wing. Raikkonen also spun but managed to stay out of trouble. Kevin Magnussen took on the blue-striped full wet tyres first and then all the rest of the drivers followed suit. Ricciardo left it very late to drop out in 12th position. Nico Hulkenberg was another surprise drop-out at 13th. Others in the drop zone were Fernando Alonso, Marcus Ericsson, and Lance Stroll. Both the Toro Rosso drivers managed to scrape through to Q3.

Q3: Rain starts pouring for an anti-climax

The top-ten shootout started under pouring rain and all the cars started on full wet tyres. With Vettel going fastest in both previous sessions and Raikkonen looking strong, Mercedes were looking to salvage the second row. Even though Hamilton set the initial benchmark time after the first runs, Raikkonen came up with a fine lap to claim provisional pole for a long while. Numerous Finnish fans in the grandstands gave out a huge cheer sensing a long overdue pole position for Kimi. Vettel could not match his teammate this time around.

In the dying minutes of Q3, Mercedes pitted both their drivers for a new set of wet tyres. Bottas responded with a great lap to just pip Raikkonen’s time. Then entered the modern day “regenmeister” – Lewis Hamilton with a nail-biting lap of 1:35.658s claimed his sixth pole position at the Hungaroring. Carlos Sainz did well for a career-best P5, as did Pierre Gasly for P6.

The Last Word Sunday’s race might be a see-saw in either wet or dry conditions

With Ferrari looking strong but unable to take pole, Mercedes’ front row lockout will be challenged by the red cars in a dry race. The Red Bull cars had a lackluster qualifying but may well be strong in the race. Toro Rosso looked strong while Hulkenberg and Leclerc will surely fight back after an unexpected grid slot. Though Hungaroring is notorious for lack of overtaking opportunities, this time you can expect the unexpected.

The complete qualifying time-sheet:

Pos No Driver Car Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 44 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:17.419 1:31.242 1:35.658 26
2 77 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:17.123 1:32.081 1:35.918 25
3 7 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 1:17.526 1:32.762 1:36.186 26
4 5 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:16.666 1:28.636 1:36.210 24
5 55 Carlos Sainz Renault 1:17.829 1:30.771 1:36.743 25
6 10 Pierre Gasly Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 1:18.577 1:31.286 1:37.591 25
7 33 Max Verstappen Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:16.940 1:31.178 1:38.032 24
8 28 Brendon Hartley Scuderia Toro Rosso Honda 1:18.429 1:32.590 1:38.128 25
9 20 Kevin Magnussen Haas Ferrari 1:18.314 1:32.968 1:39.858 24
10 8 Romain Grosjean Haas Ferrari 1:17.901 1:33.650 1:40.593 24
11 14 Fernando Alonso McLaren Renault 1:18.208 1:35.214 19
12 3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull Racing TAG Heuer 1:18.540 1:36.442 21
13 27 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1:17.905 1:36.506 20
14 9 Marcus Ericsson Sauber Ferrari 1:18.641 1:37.075 22
15 18 Lance Stroll Williams Mercedes 1:18.560 DNF 15
16 2 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren Renault 1:18.782 11
17 16 Charles Leclerc Sauber Ferrari 1:18.817 13
18 31 Esteban Ocon Force India Mercedes 1:19.142 12
19 11 Sergio Perez Force India Mercedes 1:19.200 11
20 35 Sergey Sirotkin Williams Mercedes 1:19.301 12

 

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